Saving the Institution of the Family

Saving the Institution of the FamilySaving the Institution of the Family

What will families look like in the future? Are existing social and family policies compatible with changes in family patterns? Are the problems families face today a result of incompetent social institutions or do they originate from within the family  institution? These and related questions were discussed in a forum held by the ministry of cooperatives, labor and social affairs with focus on the role of Iranian family in the Sixth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (starting 2016).

Sociology professor at Tehran University, Taghi Azad Armaki referred to the family as “the most complicated and vulnerable social institution.” He opined that Iranian families have often played an active role in creating social reforms, while also citing political and religious factors as other fundamental causes of social reform in Iran, ISNA reported.

Rejecting the belief by some people that “the Iranian family has transformed from what was once extended families to conjugal families,” he said conjugal families have always been considered as important units even though they have cordial relationships with their extended families.

What is a matter of concern, Armaki said, is a “loss of social identity” in today’s Iranian family. The sociologist cited “lack of meaningful  discourse between parents and children and men and women” as one cause of apathy and misunderstanding in families. “The conflicts are partly affected by the social and political environment and partly related with internal family issues.”

 Modern Age Needs

Stating that according to a recent study, more than 80% of young Iranian couples are disinclined to have more than one child, the sociologist pointed out that financial problems and difficulties in educating and taking care of children in modern society are the reasons given by the couples. He urged the government to keep in mind the needs of “modern life and modern individual” while drafting the sixth plan. On the other hand, he said, families are in charge of education and well-being of the “modern age individuals.”

Another researcher and sociologist, Ali Janadleh, referring to changes in the government’s take on families and population growth in recent years, warned that any new policy regarding the family system “will have long-term and cumulative results and hence needs to be carefully contemplated.” On the other hand, he said, there is an opportunity to rethink the role of families in society and arrive at new understanding.

He said questions like: what changes families are going through, is the family institution falling apart or are the families reinterpreting themselves through the new social and cultural circumstances, and, are the problems faced by Iranian families a sign of incompetency in other social institutions or do they originate in the family itself; all these must be answered before arriving at any new policy for the Iranian family.